As we celebrate The New Victory's twentieth birthday this season, we're highlighting some of the families who have been a part of our greater New Vic family for many years. For these parents and kids, seeing theatrical performances at the New Vic has become a tradition, and over the years they've shared their love of theater with their extended family and friends.
This week, we turn the spotlight on the Sacco family. Dennis and Mayra Sacco, along with their kids, Michael Sacco and DeAnna Adonnino, have seen close to 60 shows here since 1996. Mayra attended the New Vic first with DeAnna during our second season, and she still counts that show among her most memorable theatergoing experiences. "It was the first show that I exposed my daughter to—she was about two and a half at the time," Mayra recalls. "I remember her jumping up and down on the seat, and you couldn't hold her back. She was just so enthralled by the experience."
The Sacco Family, photographed in 2000. From left to right:
Michael, DeAnna, Mayra and Dennis.
"We have very special, fond memories of this place, there's no doubt about it," adds Dennis, who appreciates the impact the New Vic has had on their family. "I think it's so important that the kids came to the theater at a young age. Sometimes you don't know the impact that something will have until later on." Even though Michael and DeAnna are grown, their love of theater is as strong as ever, and they haven't left The New Victory behind. "They've come back individually. They've attended with their spouses, with their friends. Michael is in Florida now," explains Dennis, "and every weekend he goes to a live show of some sort."
"Our kids love to go to the theater, period," agrees Mayra. "And I think it's a result of having had the experience of seeing theater here at a young age." She's speaking from experience; Mayra traces her own love of theater back to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
, which she saw with childhood friends when she was just eight years old. "None of us had gone to the theater before—it was the first time for all of us. I just remember being mesmerized by it. I think my mouth was probably open the whole time."
|The comedic star of Dennis's favorite show, Avner the Eccentric, as he appeared in our 1996-97 season brochure.
|Mayra recalls her aunts' enthusiasm for the dancers of Noche Flamenca, who performed at the New Vic in 2002, 2009 and during Victory Dance in 2014.
Dennis had a very different experience growing up. "My mother and father enjoyed going to the theater, but never took the four kids!" As a result, his love of theater started a bit later, in his early twenties with the first of many Broadway shows. "There's nothing like a live show, and there's something very special about seeing it in New York." His first show at the New Vic, in 1997, was Avner the Eccentric
, a show he still recalls with fondness. "Anytime we see a clown or magic show, we're reminded of Avner
from twenty years ago!" This is a theme with the Saccos—live theater fostering stronger, more lasting memories. Of New Victory performances in particular, Dennis explains that the family "would talk about them six months later, one year later, twenty years later in a positive light."
"Going to theater as a family, there's nothing better than seeing a particular show and then being able to talk about it," adds Mayra. Even without their kids, she and Dennis still look forward to the New Victory season brochure arriving in the mail, and to the theatrical variety that they've come to expect. "There aren't many theaters where you can go and see a circus act, a drama, a musical." Over other forms of entertainment, Mayra likens live theater to an immersive, mind-body experience. "If it's a circus act, I'm at the edge of my seat. If it's drama, it's like reading a book. If it's music, I'm feeling the music." And this love of live performance runs in her family.
Mayra's parents and aunts are Cuban immigrants, and they've accompanied Mayra and Dennis to many shows over the years. "The arts were very important to them growing up. I think they lost that, unfortunately, when they came to this country," explains Mayra, "but The New Victory put it back within their reach."
"Any show that I ever attended with your parents that was of a musical variety, their feet or their hands were going," Dennis says to her, tapping a rhythm on his lap. And the Saccos look forward to continuing their theatergoing tradition. "It's gone from Mayra's parents coming along with us, to her aunts, to my daughter in-law, expanding, expanding, expanding beyond just the four of us, to the ten of us, to the twelve of us. I'm guessing that if we're blessed with grandchildren, they'll carry on that tradition." With big smiles at the thought, they agree: "We can't wait!"
For the Saccos, sharing their love of theater doesn't end with family and friends. Every year, Mayra and Dennis make a point of donating a set of New Victory tickets to charity during the holidays. They see the sharing of theatrical experiences as an extension of the New Vic's mission. "I think a lot of people view the theater as being out of reach when it may not necessarily be," says Dennis. "I think that's what the New Vic does. It makes it really within reach."
Where did your #LoveOfTheater
start? Let us know on Twitter @newvictory
, or snap a selfie for Instagram and tag us @newvictorytheater
the next time you're here!